James Suzman

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James Suzman is an anthropologist and the author of Affluence Without Abundance: The disappearing world of the Bushmen published by Bloomsbury in 2017. He is the nephew of Janet Suzman and great-nephew of Helen Suzman. He is based in Cambridge, UK.

Early life and education[edit]

Suzman was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and educated at Michaelhouse. He graduated with an MA (Hons) in social anthropology from the University of St Andrews in 1993. He was awarded a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Edinburgh in 1996.


Suzman was the first social anthropologist to work in Namibia's eastern Omaheke among Southern Ju/'hoansi, where he exposed the brutal marginalisation of San people who had lost their lands to white cattle ranchers and pastoralist Herero people.[1][2]

In 1998 Suzman was appointed to lead the landmark study, "The Regional Assessment of the Status of the San in Southern Africa", based on an ACP/EU resolution.[3][4][5]

Suzman later led an assessment by Minority Rights Group International to assess how Namibia's ethnic minorities had fared in the first ten years of Namibian Independence. The subsequent report was published in 2002. Emerging during period of political upheaval in Namibia, it led to calls for the better protection of ethnic minorities in Namibia.[6][7][8] The Namibian Government rejected the report's findings and the President, Sam Nujoma, accused Suzman of amplifying "ethnic tensions".[9]

In 2001, Suzman was awarded the Smuts Commonwealth Fellowship in African Studies at the University of Cambridge.

Suzman later established a program to establish opportunities for Hai//om San to benefit from tourism revenues in Etosha National Park.[10] He was also involved in the dispute that arose as a result of the illegal relocation of Gwi and Gana San from Botswana's Central Kalahari Game Reserve. He was highly critical of the Botswana Government's actions and, later, Survival International's campaign, which he claimed undermined ongoing negotiations between the Botswana Government and a coalition of organisations supporting the evicted San.[11][12][13] Survival International, in turn, criticised Suzman and members of the negotiating team led by Ditshwanelo, The Botswana Centre for Human Rights of complicity with the Botswana Government.[14][15][16]

In 2007, Suzman joined De Beers, where, as global head of public affairs, he developed the company's award-winning sustainability functions.[17] He resigned in 2013.

In 2013 Suzman and Jimmy Wales teamed up with Lily Cole to launch Impossible.com at the Cambridge Union.[citation needed] In the same year he was invited to deliver the second Protimos Lecture at the Parliament Chamber of London's Inner Temple.[18]


Suzman has published widely on San and other issues in academic journals, magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times.[19] In 2017 he published Affluence Without Abundance: The Disappearing World of the Bushmen.

Work: A History of How We Spend Our Time, was published in September 2020.[20][21]


  1. ^ "Bushmen @ National Geographic Magazine". Ngm.nationalgeographic.com. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  2. ^ Witness to the Persecution, Sunday Times Magazine, 1 November 1998
  3. ^ "An Introduction to the Regional Assessment of the Status of the San in Southern Africa" (PDF). Lac.org.na. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  4. ^ "An Assessment of the Status of the San in Namibia" (PDF). Lac.org.na. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  5. ^ "Local News: San caught in a trap". The Namibian. 5 November 2001. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  6. ^ "NSHR calls on Govt to recognise all minorities". The Namibian. 21 July 2003. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  7. ^ "San-volk geniet volle erkenning - Politiek En Nasionale Nuus". Republikein.com.na. 21 July 2003. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  8. ^ "San worse off than at Independence says new report on minorities". The Namibian. 18 July 2003. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  9. ^ "Authors of San report'surprised' by Nujoma's hostile reaction". The Namibian. 1 August 2003. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  10. ^ "Namibia: How the Bushmen found their soul | The Times & The Sunday Times". Thetimes.co.uk. 25 May 2003. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  11. ^ "Kalahari conundrums, James Suzman Before Farming 2002/3_4". Before Farming. 2003 (2): 1–10. 2003. doi:10.3828/bfarm.2003.2.14.
  12. ^ "A future beyond Survival?". Mg.co.za. 14 December 2002. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  13. ^ Botswana: Diamonds or Development, New African, June 2003
  14. ^ "IRIN | Tensions heightened over fate of Basarwa". Irinnews.org (in French). 31 October 2003. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  15. ^ "Kalahari conundrums, James Suzman Before Faming 2002/3-4" (PDF). Unl.edu. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  16. ^ "De Beers wrong about Bushman evictions". Survival International. 21 October 2016. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  17. ^ "De Beers Overall Winner of Sustainability Reporting Awards". Idexonline.com. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  18. ^ "Why work so hard?". Financial Times. 15 November 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
  19. ^ "Sympathy for a Desert Dog - the New York Times". Archived from the original on 26 September 2018. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  20. ^ Suzman J., 2020, Work: A History of How We Spend Our Time, Bloomsbury, ISBN 978-1526604996
  21. ^ Suzman, J. (2020). Work: A History of How We Spend Our Time. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-5266-0500-9. Retrieved 22 October 2020.

External links[edit]